Finding (and grinding) gravel in Salem

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Salem Gravel Grinder

Riders embark on a 50-mile loop of dirt and gravel farm roads west of Salem.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

I still don’t who organized last Sunday’s Salem Gravel Grinder ride; but I think that’s somewhat by design. The ride is part of a growing trend of unsanctioned, unpermitted group rides where the participants expect nothing more than a good route, good company, and a good adventure.

By that measure, Sunday’s ride (also known as “Oregon’s Perry Roubaix”) was a great success.

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The Ride: Exploring Columbia County backroads outside of Scappoose

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Columbia County backroads-6

There are many miles of logging roads waiting
to be ridden just north of the Scappoose-Vernonia Hwy.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

When the sun comes out around here in January, folks that enjoy bicycling take full advantage. This past weekend was a real gem weather-wise, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who grabbed the opportunity for some two-wheeled adventure. What I found were some off-the-beaten-path backroads that I enjoyed so much I’ve decided to share them here on the Front Page.

Wanting to do my first century of 2014, I ventured over to (a site — based right here in Portland! — that I could not live without these days) to map out one of my oldies but goodies — the Portland-Vernonia-Scappoose loop. This is a fantastic loop that I highly recommend.

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‘Bullshit 100’ and the allure of off-pavement road riding – UPDATED

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Bullshit 100 ride-2

The beautiful roads near North Plains
were a cakewalk compared to what was to come.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Riding “road” bikes on gravel and dirt roads is experiencing a major boom in popularity here in Oregon. On Sunday, I joined a dozen other intrepid riders for the “Women’s Bullshit 100” ride to found out why.

The BS 100 is one of a growing number of events on the annual calendar that lives in a hybrid space between official event and just a bunch of friends getting together for a ride. Thanks to a region full of bike adventure lovers, these type of rides are growing like weeds. A pioneer in this style is the Ronde PDX, an unsanctioned ride through Portland’s West Hills that attracts thousands of eager participants each year. Another prime example is VeloDirt, whose founder Donnie Kolb has become something of a legend for his epic annual events such as The Dalles Mountain 60 and the Oregon Stampede.

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Exploring the ‘Oregon Outback’ by bike

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Plentiful marshes flush with waterfowl in the Sprague River Valley

Plentiful marshes flush with waterfowl in the Sprague River Valley.
(Photos by Gabriel Amadeus)

Please join us in welcoming this special contribution from Portland-based graphic designer, tall bike builder, photographer and consummate adventurer Gabriel Amadeus. Gabe’s inspiring story and photos are brought to you in part by Treo Bike Tours, eastern Oregon’s new gravel and road-riding destination.

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Travel Oregon rolls out promotional video for Old West Scenic Bikeway

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Still from new Travel Oregon video.

Travel Oregon has just released the first in a series of new videos in their ongoing effort to promote Oregon’s burgeoning network of officially designated State Scenic Bikeways. Last week we shared a bikeways marketing push that made its way onto a jumbotron in New York City’s Times Square.

To make the two-minute video (watch it below), the agency commissioned the Portland-based bike touring advocacy and journalism duo of Russ Roca and his partner Laura Crawford of Path Less Pedaled. Kristin Dahl, senior manager of destination development for Travel Oregon, said they plan to do a similar video for each of the nine officially designated scenic bikeway routes and they’ll be rolled out through spring of next year.

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Getting to know Otto Miller Road – UPDATED

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It was nice to finally meet Otto Miller.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

On Saturday I finally explored Otto Miller Road. I say finally, because I’ve heard about it for years; but I just haven’t gotten out to do it. Now that I’m finally riding a bit more and have some legs under me, I figured it was time to find this legendary road and give it a try. And I’m glad I did.

Before I share any more, I should thank Rapha — the awesome bike apparel/lifestyle company based in the UK with its North American headquarters right here in Portland. The first time I heard about Otto Miller was (I think) on a tag inside one of their jerseys. I figured it was some legendary European rider. It wasn’t until a few months later I realized it was actually a road. And they simply loved riding on it.

About 20 miles north of Portland on Highway 30, just as you enter Scappoose, you come to Dutch Canyon Road. Take that about 5 miles west and you’ll find Otto Miller Road. It’s a gravel road that climbs southward for about 3 miles, with a few extra miles of rollers before you make your way back up to the southern tip of NW Skyline.

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Want more equity in transportation? There’s a ride for that


People from different ethnic,
economic, and social
backgrounds will come together
for the Equity Bike Ride.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Equity is a very big topic in transportation circles right now. From a debate over how to allocate space on the newly carfree SW Ankeny Blvd in downtown Portland, to larger discussions about where our region should prioritize transportation spending, to its connections to health outcomes — equity has become a fundamental part of mobility discussions (just ask Mayor Adams).

If you’re interested to learn more about this issue, the Equity Bike Ride would be a great place to start. Now in its second year, the ride brings people from different backgrounds and a wide range of organizations together: Think of it like a transportation equity summit on wheels.

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Weekend Event Guide: Park(ing) Day, bike moves, beer

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We’ve got a great lineup of events this weekend, and the weather promises to be at least partly cooperative.

Friday, September 18

Friday is Park(ing) Day
On Park(ing) Day, on-street car parking spots are temporarily turned into parks of all sorts. Metro is celebrating the occasion all over the region to promote its Intertwine trail network (and to contribute to it, at least until the parking meters run out).

5:30: Kidical Mass Downtown
Bring your parents and meet at the playground at NW Park and Davis for a friendly ride around downtown.

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Pioneer Century kicks off the summer riding season

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The Portland Wheelmen’s annual Pioneer Century ride is coming up soon, Saturday, June 6th, to kick off the summer road riding season. This is one of the most popular road rides of the year — last year’s Pioneer Century drew over 1,200 participants.

The Pioneer Century is a very flexible ride. The usual route is a 55-mile loop through the Canby-Molalla areas, with a challenging climb up the Cascade foothills to Kokel Corner. The second ride option is a very rural and scenic 45-mile loop, from Canby to Champoeg (pronounced “shampoo-ey”), out to the Willamette and back. Do the whole century by riding the 55-mile loop through Molalla first, then riding the Champoeg loop.

New to this year will be a shorter, 32-mile route through Canby and Molalla, without the climb up to Kokel Corner. Beautiful rural Oregon with only 1000ft of elevation gain — you won’t even notice that you’ve gone uphill! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also follow-up the 32-mile ride with the Champoeg loop for a three-quarters century ride.

The ride starts at around 9am from the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby (south of Oregon City); the course opens at 7am, and riders depart around 9am.

Breakfast is being provided by Bob’s Red Mill; lunch and raffle prizes are being provided by Chris King. Online registration ($25) is open now at the Wheelmen’s site, and your cheerful author is probably going to get the very awesome souvenir socks that are available too.

What: Portland Wheelmen Pioneer Century
Where: Clackamas Fairgrounds, Canby
When: Saturday, June 6; course opens at 7am, 55 and 100 mile rides must leave by 9am